Will Facebook ban subversive propaganda against Cuba?

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda Radio Marti is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

As I have warned in previous articles, and after being accused of allowing Russia to interfering in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook is being absorbed in a campaign to remove all the paid propaganda from its website.

The last attempt to improve its “unbiased” image occurred on Tuesday when the social network removed more than 650 websites, groups, and accounts identified as “inauthentic behavior,” according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The “conspiracy” refuted by Facebook, according to the report delivered to the American authorities, was carried out from websites that were tracked to Iran and groups linked to operations of the Russian intelligence.

According to Facebook, the accounts —also in Instagram and owned by Facebook as well— the news that were presented as independent or by groups belonging to the civil society were actually working in coordinated efforts targeting users from UK, Latin America, Middle East, and the U.S.

The websites, in the words of Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher, were linked to state-owned media from Iran through the publicly available website registration information. Such is the case of Quest 4 Truth, which claims to be an organization independent from Iran media.

The vast majority of the removed accounts focused its activity range on the Near East and tried to manipulate public opinion on some U.S. policies and certain anti-Israeli, anti-Saudi Arabian stances. Similarly, they favor pro-Palestinians viewpoints.

The same source also confirmed in a news conference that Facebook removed a number of websites and accounts previously identified as Russian military services, and following the reports, they were unrelated to Iran.

The HuffPost revealed that this network had 813 000 accounts in Facebook and 10 000 in Instagram and spent around 6,000 USD in ads for Facebook between 2012 and April 2018.

In other words, according to Facebook latest policies, the removed networks were not only related to governments that Washington targets in its sanctions, but these countries also paid ads in order to spread their political propaganda.

So far, so good. Facebook assumes its right to host or not in its platform, paid political propaganda. The problem lays in discerning if the largest social network in the world can be consistent with its principles with other sort of “paid political propaganda.”

Of course we are referring to the kind of propaganda Facebook is using against Cuba. The later was recently confirmed in the budgetary documents for the tax years of 2018 and 2019 of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, released by the Miami New Times.

The document highlights that the U.S. government has plans to use Cuban “native” and “non-branded” accounts in Facebook to spread content created by the government without notifying Cuban users in Facebook:

Due to the Cuban blockade of Radio and TV Marti, the OCB digital strategy has turned to social networks. These consist of Facebook, YouTube, and Google which are the most visited in Cuba. By using AVRA technology, the Radio Marti programs became radio-visual and were broadcasted via Facebook Live along with the programming of TV Marti. It certainly gives the OCB and additional, efficient, and profitable distribution either for its radio-visual or TV content.

In the tax year of 2018, the OCB is creating digital devices in Cuba aiming for creating fake accounts in Facebook to spread information. The websites opened in the island increase the chances of reaching Cuban users in Facebook. The same strategy will be copycatted in other social networks.

According to the Miami New Times, the budgetary document suggests that the OCB (Office of Cuba Broadcasting) plans to spread American propaganda against Cuba to deceive users in Cuba and make them believe that the information is coming from other Cuban users, not from the Radio Marti headquarters.

Does Facebook have any notion regarding the sort of propaganda the OCB is trying to camouflage through its platform to Cuban internet users?

There is no doubt who are the ones paying for it. Since the 1980s, when the inappropriately called Radio Marti was created by the government of Ronald Reagan, such radio station has not stopped trying convey subversive propaganda against the Cuban Revolution either by radio or television; and recently by using new technologies. As the article states, the OCB created the text message service Piramideo (Pyramid), which could not “meet its goal of promoting dissent in Cuba” and for years managed to smuggle small satellite devices that could provide internet access until such smuggling was stopped in 2015 due to the excessive spending.

As we have said before, the hate speech against Cuba abounds in that social network and quoting the Miami New Times, Nasserie Carew, spokeswoman at the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Facebook project never “took off.” But honestly, that is a “weird answer” if we take into account the plan was linked to documents that account for the 2018-2019 budget.

It is also weird that Facebook, a social network that presents itself to the world as an independent enterprise, emerges as part of a dirty war against Cuba in a U.S. government document. Is Facebook part of the Task Force created last January by the Trump Administration, which according to the State Department, “will evaluate the technological challenges as well as the opportunities to widen the access to the Internet and the independent media in Cuba? And it will certainly find ways to spread the usage of social networks and the free Internet access in the island.

Although the spokesman of Facebook did not answer any of the questions on the subject, we may assume that the new subversive plans of the OCB against Cuba are not allowed by such social network by a simple reason, as noted by Professor John S. Nichols, from the Pennsylvania University, co-author of the book 1987 Clandestine Radio Broadcasting in his book:

"Third-party countries see what they’re doing and say, 'There goes the United States again doing that dumb stuff,'" he says. "It's small, mean, and not worthy of a great power. Other countries say, 'If the U.S. is willing to violate international law, why should we obey our treaty obligations?' I think that has a long-term negative effect. And given what Radio and TV Martí might doing right now, it becomes hard for us to complain about what other countries might be doing to us."

Suffice to say that amid such strong misinformation campaign Facebook is in, removing the subversive propaganda posted in its platform would increase the trust of its users for sure. Besides, it should not be complicated to achieve it if we take into account that the budget report of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has saved Facebook time and resources in the investigation.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

US Reduces Trip Warning to Cuba from Level Three to Two

The US Department of State said today that it has reduced its travel warning to Cuba, a country internationally recognized as a safe destination, from level three (reconsidering the trip) to two (taking additional precautions).

This measure represents an improvement in the recommendation on visits to Cuba in the four-level ranking (the first asks to take normal precautions and the fourth warns about not to travel).

However, the federal agency justified its decision to reduce the level to two by claiming that more caution should be exercised in Cuba 'due to attacks on employees at the US Embassy in Havana.'

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Thus, the State Department continues to use the term attacks to refer to health incidents reported by US officials, despite acknowledging in today's press release that they have not been able to identify the source of what happened.

Thursday's measure comes after last January, when a new system of travel recommendations was released, and Washington placed Cuba in level three, due to 'serious risks to safety and protection.'

At that time, the reason claimed by the US was the situation with the diplomats, which led the State Department to reduce the number of officials in Cuba.

The decision to continue to call to 'reconsider the trips' came a day after the Cuban Educational Travel agency, the organizer of stays in the Caribbean nation, published the results of a survey conducted among 462 US travelers who visited Cuba in 2017 and 2018.

In terms of general security, 83 percent of US travelers, who are banned from traveling to Cuba as tourists, considering that the nation is 'very safe' and 16 percent rated it safe, while less than one percent regarded it as insecure.

During the 41th International Tourism Fair held in Spain last January, Cuba received the Excellence Award as the safest country for tourism.

  • Published in Cuba

New rules make first Women’s Baseball World Cup played on US soil more exciting

WBSC will test during the VIII Women’s Baseball World Cup a new set of rules.
“The twelve-second rule between pitches has been in use for some time now,” cleared WBSC Umpire Director Gustavo Rodriguez during the presentation press conference “But we will be using a clock on the field for the very first time.”

Players will have 90 seconds between half innings to get ready and managers will be able to declare an intentional walk.
The big change in the rules will be the introduction of instant replays. Every manager will have the possibility to challenge one decision of the umpiring crew. When a manager loses the challenge, in the sixth and seventh the decision to turn to instant replays will be left to the umpiring crew

Australia’s manager Simone Wearne seemed not too worried about the new rules.
“They are not going to affect the way we play. Baseball is baseball”.

20180821 Women Baseball World Cup Trophy and Medals

Japan is a five-time defending champion but Megumi Kitta is a first year manager.
“My English is very bad, but my players are very good,” she joked “We have a lot of twenty-year olds on the roster and three High School players.”
Taking over after five World Titles must put some pressure on you: “Well, everybody jokes with me about the possibility I may be the first losing manager after five wins, including my parents…”

Kitta San was joined during the press conference by star pitcher Ayami Sato, who has been the World Cup MVP for the last two editions.
“I am here to be the MVP for the third time in a row. I feel very good. I also have expanded my range of pitches.”

Canada finished second in 2016 and manager Andrè Lachance said: “It’s amazing how much this tournament has grown since the first edition in Edmonton.”

Carlos Torres is the manager of Venezuela, that won a bronze medal two years ago.
“It’s a honour to be here, representing my country. I am sure you are all aware of the sacrifices we had to do, to make this possible.”

Also USA’s Matt Weagle is a rookie manager. But he was on the staff for the last two World Cups as the pitching coach.
“It’s a real honour. I don’t take lightly the fact I am managing on USA soil and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. I can’t promise victories, but I can promise we will play hard.”

The VIII Women’s Baseball World Cup opens on Wednesday, 22 August, at Space Coast Complex in Viera, Florida. The first two games (Dominican Republic-Japan and Chinese Taipei-Venezuela) are scheduled at 10 am (US Eastern time). The opening ceremony will start at 6 pm and will be followed by Puerto Rico-USA to close Day 1 of competition.

  • Published in Sports

Maduro’s Assassination Attempt: Nikki Haley is “the savior” of migrants

While the U.S. government announced its involvement in the investigation of the assassination attempt against (Nicolas) Maduro and in order to verify if there were “credible evidences” —as if new fortune teller journalist Jaime Bayly’s prophecies were not enough—, the U.S. ambassador before the UN, Nikki Haley, said in Cucuta that “the world must realize there is a dictator in Venezuela.”

“Venezuela used to be a very successful country and we now see Venezuelan citizens crossing the border to find some food and medicine,” said Haley to the journalists after visiting one of the Immigrant Assistance Centers.”

The diplomat, member of the Donald Trump’s staff, heads the U.S. delegation to the inauguration of Colombia’s new president Ivan Duque. She urged countries in the region to take actions in this regard and condemn the regime so the international community can be aware of it.

“It is time that countries in the region affected by the migration flow condemn Maduro and tell him it is time he goes,” the ambassador added.

We believe the region Haley refers to is limited to Colombia and Brazil and not the Central American countries where thousands migrants depart every day to the U.S. to escape the consequences of exploitation and war these countries have been subjected by the Empire dictatorship. And it certainly has nothing to do with Maduro or the Bolivarian Revolution.

“The savior” also announced that the U.S. will allot 9 million USD more to find a solution for the border struggle. Such amount of money would certainly be better allotted in ending the crisis of thousands of emigrant children separated from their parents in the U.S., which is a great shame to the world.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

MONTHLY PICKET ACTIONS TO END THE U.S. BLOCKADE ON CUBA:

For over 56 years, the Cuban people have been enduring an unjust U.S. blockade which has negatively impacted their daily lives. One example of the cruel effects of the blockade is the damages caused to the Cuban public health system. In this sector along, the monetary damage is estimated at more than $87 million just in one year.

Despite all these challenges, Cuba is world renowned for its healthcare system, which has achieved a lower infant mortality rate than many first world countries, including the United States and Canada.

On August 17, join friends of Cuba around the world, along with the Cuban people, to stand up against continued U.S. attacks on Cuba. From Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal, Canada and Kiev, Ukraine we will unite our voices demanding an end to the U.S. blockade on Cuba and the full normalization of U.S. - Cuba relations! 

This event will be taking place on the traditional and unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ), the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) Coast Salish Nations. 

> TRUMP HANDS OFF CUBA!
> END THE U.S. BLOCKADE ON CUBA NOW
> RETURN GUANTANAMO TO CUBA NOW!
> U.S. GOVERNMENT STOP THE CAMPAIGN OF ‘REGIME CHANGE’ IN CUBA AND IMMEDIATELY STOP INTERFERING IN CUBA’S SOVEREIGNTY AND SELF-DETERMINATION

  • Published in Cuba

Seoul, Washington to Hold Dialogue on Inter-Korean Relations

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have exchanged views today on the situation on the Korean peninsula and the recent high-level meetings in Panmunjom.

According to the South Korean Foreign Office, the two sides discussed by telephone the results of the cross-border talks, which ended with the agreement of an inter-Korean presidential summit next September in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Pompeo expressed his appreciation for Minister Kang's explanation and both agreed to cooperate closely in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the establishment of a lasting peace regime, the ministry said in a press release.

Seoul and Pyongyang have scheduled the September summit amidst growing speculation about a perceived stagnation in the negotiations.

South Korea supports Washington's position of maintaining all diplomatic and economic pressure on the DPRK until Pyongyang takes what they consider to be concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

The North Korean foreign ministry referred to the suspension of nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, as well as the elimination of the nuclear test site, as effective measures aimed at achieving mutual trust.

On the other hand, the United States has reiterated that it is too early to talk about an official statement on the end of the Korean War (1950-53), one of the main requests of the DPRK to move forward on the agreed issues.

Analysts consider that as part of the agenda of Presidents Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in their third face-to-face meeting, it is to address the permanent peace treaty which will replace the armistice signed in 1953 and which keeps the Korean peninsula technically at war.

  • Published in World

U.S.A. Believes it is Soon for Peace Treaty in Korean Peninsula

The United States reiterated today that it is too early to speak of an official declaration about the end of the Korean War (1950-53), despite the rapprochement between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang.

According to the US ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, Seoul and the United States share the common goal of verified denuclearization and to achieve it depends on the hard work of diplomacy.

This position of the US diplomat supports Washington's position that insists on demanding concrete steps by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) towards denuclearization, before serious talks take place on the signing of a permanent peace treaty.

Recently, the DPRK criticized Washington's constant call to exert international pressure on Pyongyang and emphasized that the country has taken steps to enforce the agreements signed between US President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong-un on June 12.

The North Korean foreign ministry mentioned the suspension of nuclear tests and launches of ballistic missiles, as well as the elimination of the nuclear test center, as effective measures that seek to create mutual trust.

As long as the United States follows that expired script, it will not be possible to see progress on the agreed issues, emphasized the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the DPRK.

  • Published in World

United States: Arms Paradise

As Spanish news agency EFE reported on Sunday, the White House released this week its new policy on CAT (Conventional Arms Transfer).

The document main goal is to foster the sale of arms that the United States has been taking profit for years.

The statement of the Department of State substitutes that of former president Barack Obama in 2014.

Its three main goals are:

-         *Give top priority to strategic competence

-         *Create a proper environment to close the operations of arms selling

-         *Regroup the business model to increase the chances for success

But experts believe these goals are vague and refute, once again, the Trump’s administration of lack of transparency.

The law highlights “the increasing opportunity of business” and the “importance of strengthening the sale of arms in the world.”

One of the most appealing characteristics in Trump’s policy is set in his motto: “Make America Great Again.”

According to EFE, to do so, the CAT speeds up Washington’s arms transactions with potential customers abroad.

It does not mean that Congress is fully unaware of such military negotiations.

The U.S. government reported sales worth of 41,93 billion USD in 2017.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt are the main buyers.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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